On the morning he was to attend the press conference announcing 24’s second season, Anil Kapoor woke up early to exercise in the morning sun. “I thought, let me torture myself. I also did some weight training at the gym and was obsessing about my clothes, shoes and hair; this felt like my introduction, ‘make or break’,” he stated, adding that he has never felt as motivated and charged as he does now. It is, perhaps, this discipline and passion that reflects in the 58-year-old’s work three decades after he has been in the film industry.
Dressed in a grey jacket, olive t-shirt, dark blue denims and Lennon-esque glasses, a bearded Kapoor unveiled the poster for the second season of 24, the Indian remake of the American television drama. Two years after the show premiered, the actor reprises his role as the lead protagonist Jai Singh Rathore, an intelligence officer torn between loyalty towards his family and his nation. While the first season had Rathore foiling an attempt to assassinate the country’s prime minister, Kapoor revealed that the second season — scheduled to go on air in early 2016 — will see his character countering a threat to the nation. “I have a newfound respect for the officers, both who are on the front and those at the desk,” he said.
In terms of production values, the Indian version is similar to the American original. Produced by Anil Kapoor Films, it is one of the most expensive shows on Indian television. “Most people feel that television is a cash cow. The attitude is ‘let’s work in films and earn money in television’. But 24 is not like that,” says Kapoor. Tight-lipped about the star cast — the previous season saw guest appearances from the likes of Anupam Kher and Richa Chadha — he says that the focus is to make the plot more layered, yet audience-specific. “The value systems, culture and ethos of society here is different, so our aim is to ensure that we can adapt it accordingly,” he says.
Meanwhile, his production company is also helming the Indian adaptation of popular American sitcom Modern Family. With Everybody Loves Raymond too being adapted as Sumit Sambhal Lega, Kapoor feels remakes suggest a positive paradigm shift. “There is an intent by audiences to see content that makes you think, that you can compare to international standards. Even our endeavour is to do it in a way comparable to the best in the world, so that even international audiences watch the show and marvel at it,” says the actor, who made an appearance in season eight of the American version of 24 as Omar Hassan, president of the fictional Islamic Republic of Kamistan. “Their professionalism and commitment shows their love for the work they do,” adds Kapoor, who is also an avid follower of American TV, with favourites such as Breaking Bad and House of Cards. “I’m dying to watch Narcos, having heard raving reviews. When I was in Los Angeles recently, I met Kevin Spacey and told him I’m a big fan. He said that he also was a big fan of mine, so that was thrilling,”